two things tuesday

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 0 comments
What's on the list for this week? Nothing huge. If the truth be told, I'm still not completely done from last week (which carried over from the week before). Where's the bag-over-head emoticon?

This week, until I go to bed on Monday night, my challenge is going to be
  1. To finish sawing the grout out of my bathroom floor tiles so I can re-grout. The floor had a dark brown grout on light tiles and it just doesn't work with the bathroom anymore since it (still in progress) went from completely tiled to drywalled. The grout is also old and dried out and the colour is patchy in places. Time for a change.
  2. Find five pictures on my harddrive that I want to hang in my house, get them ready (Photoshop if need be) for printing, and then printed them out. Bonus points if I get them framed as well.
Happy Tuesday!

menu plan monday: august 30 - september 5

Monday, August 30, 2010 0 comments
Monday has found us once again and also once again, I'll be trying to use up ingredients from the pantry, fridge, and freezer as well as leftovers instead of doing a big grocery shop for new items.

This week is looking like so:

Monday: Broccoli Soup
Tuesday: Mexican Lasagna
Wednesday: Easy Shepherd's Pie (using shredded beef)
Thursday: Vegetarian Brown Rice Casserole (using this lentil soup recipe)
Friday: dinner out with my boyfriend (hopefully)
Saturday: leftover Mexican Lasagna
Sunday: leftover Shepherd's Pie

There are many more meal plans at Organizing Junkie, who hosts Menu Plan Monday each week. Bloggers from all over participate to provide over 200 meal plans each week. Check it out. You'll definitely find some new recipes to try.

four to follow

Saturday, August 28, 2010 0 comments
It is technically Saturday. I've just come off an evening shift and am heading to bed but, as I plan to be offline for the weekend, I wanted to share a few blogs that I've been enjoying for awhile now. Maybe you'll find a quiet moment this weekend to check them out if you're not already familiar with them.

Alissa of 33 Shades of Green writes regularly and her blog is filled to overflowing with beautiful, simple, and truly inspirational things. From tutorials to remodeling to repurposing to cooking, you'll find yourself reading through page after page of previous posts until you find yourself at her very first blog post, disappointed that there are no more to read until she posts again.

Ann at A Holy Experience speaks to my soul and gently calls me back to my faith. Often, as I read a new post, I am moved to tears at the poetic beauty and simplicity with which she shares truths and lessons. I can't remember how I came across Ann's blog but it was a keeper from the first day.

Alison at Mama's Weeds makes me laugh. She is, in her words, a former Computer Programmer turned Stay-At-Home-Homeschooling-Mom. Alison blogs about her life, her running, her two adorable girls, and her journey to health and wellness.

Kelle at Enjoying the Small Things is mama to two beautiful little girls and also a bonus mom to her husband's sons. Kelle is a photographer and her blog posts are full of gorgeous shots of her family, her home, and her life. Kelle is always smiling and lives life to the fullest, truly enjoying the small things, not letting them be overshadowed.

These are just four of the blogs that I follow on a regular basis. What are four on your must-read list?

you capture: outside

Friday, August 27, 2010 4 comments
The lovely Beth over at I Should Be Folding Laundry hosts a You Capture carnival each week, posting the theme on Thursdays. This week's theme, August 26 through September 1, is Outside. The rules for participating are simple and can be found in any of the weekly You Capture posts on Beth's blog.

It is an absolutely gorgeous day here with a nearly cloudless brilliant blue sky. The sun is shining and the temperature is sitting around 20ºC, which is right in my range of I-wish-it-was-like-this-all-year temperatures. It's supposed to get to 23º today and I'm just sorry that I'll be napping for night shift and miss it. The forecast for the next few days is equally wonderful though so I'll just have to suck it up and wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow my son B and I have planned a rousing session of mini-putt (also known as mini golf, I believe).

I had a hard time choosing which photos to post so I've chosen nearly all of the shots. It makes for a picture-heavy post but they make me smile.

 Chrysanthemum-type Asters

unders (and other towel load items) soaking up the sun

"Garden T's" made by my 5-year-old "for vines to climb on"

San Marzano tomatoes ready to pick

 A little kiwi-sized canteloupe trying to beat the end of the growing season

My son's Morning Glory vine, of which he is exceptionally proud

My trusty watering can, ready for duty

And lastly, the place where all these photos were captured this morning, the place that makes me smile almost every time I look at it as I remember what it looked like when I moved in: my little backyard. I've added a table with umbrella and chairs to the brick patio (just visible in the lower right corner) and we've shared a few meals out there in the cool of the evening. There's no feeling quite like it, knowing that this is my place, my home.

Next week's challenge is going to be "mornings". Interested in participating in the You Capture blog carnival? For this week, head outside, snap a few pictures, post them on your blog or flickr page, and then go over to Beth's blog to include yourself via the McLinky tool.

works for me wednesday: just do it

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 0 comments
I'm sneaking in under the wire to contribute to this week's Works for Me Wednesday, which is hosted by Kristen of We are THAT Family

Tonight I did something that I need to do a lot more of - just doing it. Whatever "it" might happen to be. Tonight it was deciding to go into the sewing room (the sewing room that is the subject of last week's failed Two Things Tuesday and the return subject of this week's) and just plugging away at getting it sorted out. I told myself I'd do it for an hour. I purposely didn't set a timer, instead telling myself that I could just stick my head out the door to see the clock on the wall. I went in around 9:30.

At 10:30, I exited the room. I'd been in and out a few times as I moved random items to a better home but I hadn't looked at the clock on those occasions. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that I'd been in there for nearly an hour! To look at the area of the room that I was working in tonight you probably wouldn't notice a huge difference although it is definitely there.

I am very much a procrastinator, a person with big ideas and lofty plans but often little follow-through when it comes right down to it. I need to just do it or it often won't get done; set aside all the thoughts of "But I need this or that in order to do X or Y," and just get up, go in, and start. Simply getting up and beginning worked for me tonight and it will work tomorrow morning too, when I again go in to tackle the somewhat overwhelming task that is the sewing room.

For a ton of great tips and ideas or to contribute your own, head over to Kristen's blog.

two things tuesday

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 0 comments
I'm a little disappointed in relation to last week's Two Things Tuesday. I had said that I would get the rec room and sewing room in order and neither one is complete.

The rec room fared better than the sewing room but it still hosts a small pile of winter clothing that need to be donated as well as a cheap 2-cube shelving unit that needs to find a new home. I did tidy up and dust and hang a clock though somehow that doesn't ease my disappointment in myself.

The sewing room is the least done, being only about halfway finished. I got it into my head that I needed a short bookshelf to go under the window to hold the books and a few baskets of smaller items. I could use a bookshelf but the rest of the room doesn't depend on it and that is what I let myself think. The state of the room is overwhelming in a "where do I start?" sense and while, yes, moving the books from a few piles on the floor to a bookshelf would be a huge improvement, I could also move those books to a Rubbermaid tote and park it out of the room if that's what needs to be done for now. I did look at three different secondhand shops yesterday but didn't find a single bookshelf. I'll keep my eyes open.

In the meantime, I have two mornings and three full days off before next Tuesday. I refuse to post my self challenge a third time so I will hang my head in shame and then carry on and get both rooms finished by next week. In addition, I am going to add a third smaller challenge and that is to finally get the back entrance (a very small space) cleared up. This will involve moving things to the shed, putting tools away, and getting rid of a few things. The new-in-the-box toilet that has yet to be installed in my bathroom is given permission to stay; everything else will go.

Second time's a charm!

menu plan monday: august 23 - 29

Monday, August 23, 2010 0 comments
Last week ran nearly perfectly smoothly in terms of meals and the meal (ie: supper) plan I'd made up. I was impressed! This week's supper menu took a little more thought for some reason and includes nights where I'll be eating supper at work instead of home.

Monday: Broccoli Soup (adding in a potato and a carrot too)
Tuesday: Lasagna Casserole, garlic toast
Wednesday: Easy Pumpkin Pancakes with real maple syrup
Thursday: Moroccan Quinoa Salad
Friday: leftover broccoli soup
Saturday: pizza (using this crust from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry)
Sunday: Mexican Lasagna

This week is a bit of a pantry challenge and I think I may be able to make it with only picking up a bit of salsa and a small tub of cottage cheese. I may even be able to make  the salsa myself; I have one large grocery store tomato and what looks like two nearly-red San Marzano tomatoes in the garden. In a pinch, I suppose I could use canned tomatoes. This week's menu also uses up a head of broccoli in my fridge (we ate nearly all of a head of cauliflower last week!) and potentially a butternut squash too.

I didn't make the granola from last week. If I do it this week it'll have to be either Wednesday evening or after Friday night. I also didn't make the bread; I have a double batch rising in the oven right now. I'm heading out to run a few errands while it rises.

If you're interested in browsing through [what will be] well over 200 other menu plans, stop by Organizing Junkie for this week's Menu Plan Monday.

this moment

Friday, August 20, 2010 0 comments
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Via Soulemama. If you're inspired to do the same, leave your link in the comments here and on Soulemama's blog.


Thursday, August 19, 2010 0 comments
Did you know that you can eat and drink hemp? It's not just for textiles, paper, and fuel. Up until a few months ago, this was news to me. I first learned of hemp as a food product via Gena of Choosing Raw and I found hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds) at one of my local bulk food stores, which also has a large selection of natural and organic foods.

The following bullet points, taken from the Nahanni River Herbs website and echoed  numerous other places online, list some of the many health benefits of hemp hearts.
  • Contains more required amino acids (proteins) than milk, meat or eggs.
  • Is a complete protein rich source,  much more balanced and digestible than Soy products.
  • Contains about 47% oil, 78% of which is omega 3 and 6 , the essential fats.
  • Has all the essential or omega fats required for human health.
  • Contains several times more omega 3 essential fat than any fish.
  • Provides more energy than energy bars, without their sugar and with much less saturated fat.
  • They are suitable for those unable to eat gluten, sugar, nuts, and meat.
  • Excellent for those troubled with constipation.
  • Perfect for those avoiding carbohydrates.
  • A 42 g serving (4 tbsp) contains 240 calorie energy from 15 g protein,15 g polyunsaturated fats (11.4 g omega 6 and 3.6 g omega 3), 2.7 g mono-unsaturated fats, 2.1 g saturated fats, 2.5 g fiber, 4.5 g carbohydrates, 2 mg iron, 31 mg calcium, 3.8 mg sodium, 3.8 mg vitamin E, 956 IU vitamin D, .42 mg vitamin C, .05 mg B6, .58 mg vitamin B1, 1.6 IU vitamin A.

I haven't branched out very much yet in my hemp consumption and apart from a single swig of hemp milk (which I did not find all that palatable; I don't remember the brand), I've been using my hemp hearts in my soaked overnight oats. My batches turn out such that I have enough for three mornings and this contains a total of three to four tablespoons of hemp hearts. I've mentioned my morning oats in this post. The recipe has since been tweaked some more to include replacing some of the milk with unflavoured natural yogurt, a tablespoon or two of chia seeds as well as, most days, some maca powder. Topped with fresh fruit - whatever I have on hand - I'm still loving these oats.

Hemp hearts help to fill me up and keep me going, extending the staying power of the oats, flaxmeal, nut butter, chia seeds, oatbran, and fruit. On any given day shift, which for me starts when I wake up at 4:45 a.m. to be at work for 6 a.m., I take a bowl of soaked oats topped with fresh fruit with me to eat at my desk very shortly after I get there and before the public starts walking in the door. By my first break, which I take between 9:30 and 10:30, I'm just starting to be ready to eat something else; not because I'm starving but because lunch is still another one to two and a half hours away.

I love that I'm supporting a Canadian company when I buy my hemp seeds. Rocky Mountain Grain Products is an Alberta company producing hemp oil, bars, and seeds.

    works for me wednesday: on my list

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010 0 comments
    Lists. You either love 'em or hate 'em. I love them and hate them. But they usually work for me.

    I sometimes keep a running list of things that need to be done. A few months back while blog surfing, I came across a post in which the blogger mentioned that she keeps a notebook in which she records her To Do list. She starts by putting the date at the top of the page and throughout the week adds and crosses off as things get done or new things come up. At the end of the week (or whenever the list starts to look cluttered), she starts a new page with the current date and carries over the things remaining to be done and continues on from there, again crossing off and adding as the case may be. I did this for a few weeks and actually found it to be very helpful. Instead of having scrap pieces of paper and junk mail envelopes in several places around the house with my To Do list on it, it was all in one place, easy and accessible. I'm going to dust off my notebook and put it to work again.

    The past couple of weeks, I've found a smaller list - essentially a To Do Today list - to work for me.  I keep it small, usually no more than five points, and make sure that those five things aren't all "heavy" things but rather a mix of big and small tasks. Today's list reads:
    • groceries to storage room {I have a large box of canned and boxed items to go downstairs to my "overflow pantry"}
    • laundry away
    • spaghetti sauce (and thaw meatballs)
    • rec room {this is the "heavy" task today; it's a bit of a mess}
    • budget {enter in receipts from the past few days}
    • watermelon lemonade {to use up the watermelon and lemons in the fridge}
    I'm going to mix up spaghetti sauce to simmer and then carry the laundry and groceries downstairs and go from there. I do like to see the list getting smaller as I cross things off. And seeing as yesterday was a rather productive day for me, I know I need to make today somewhat productive as well. My son is at daycamp this week (and next) and I have no excuse not to use this time to get things done. Not to mention my Two Things Tuesday challenge deadline is on Sunday.

    Kristen of We are THAT Family hosts Works for Me Wednesday every week. If you have some time, take a look through the over 200 contributions currently on her blog.

    two things tuesday

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010 0 comments
    It's the second edition of Two Things Tuesday and as it lends itself well to a short post, it works out perfectly because I'm heading out the door to work.

    This week, I have two tasks that I've been avoiding for no other reason that they take time and more effort than I have felt like exerting. In addition to continuing to do the two things from last week, I am doing to tackle the following two jobs.
    1.  I am going to get the sewing room in order. This is a main floor bedroom-sized room which was conveniently used three years ago, when I was first moving in, to house all the boxes and piles of things that weren't needed immediately. It was convenient to toss them all in this room and close the door (equipped with a cover on the doorknob that my then toddler couldn't open), keeping them out of sight. The problem was that they never really got taken care of and though the piles and boxes from moving have dwindled over the years, they've been replaced with other piles. The room has been re-arranged a few times and everything seems to just get moved around and not really put away or, what really needs to be done, disposed of. I plan to be ruthless this week. I am off for six days after tonight's shift, including four days where my son will be at a 9 - 4 daycamp, and I plan to go in with a box and a garbage bag and let loose. I figure if there are things in there that I haven't needed or really used in three, two, or even one year (and hey, even six months for some things) then out they go. Some obviously, like fabric and notions that I haven't actually been able to get to, will stay. Wish me luck!
    2. The second job to tackle will be the rec room. It's small but cluttered, again, with things that are just out of their place. I need to put away the remaining clothes in the suitcase my son used in mid-July to go to an aunt's cottage for a week; I need to put away the piles of winter clothing that don't fit in our drawers; I need to get my boyfriend to take my treadmill over to his place like he's been planning for months; and I need to make the space a more inviting place to be. I'd like to put a clock on the wall,and a picture or two up as well.
    Two room tackles, five days left in which to do it. It'll be tough (motivation is the biggest hinderance) but I can do it. I may even take before and after pictures to post at the end of the week.

    Want to join in on Two Things Tuesday? Just leave a link in the comments to your blog post.

    menu plan monday: august 16 - 22

    Monday, August 16, 2010 0 comments
    One of the changes I implemented last week was meal planning. I've done it in the past with great success but somehow fell off the wagon. I loved how easy it made it to grocery shop, prepare supper, and free up time but apparently I didn't love it enough. Back in the saddle.

    Laura at Organizing Junkie hosts Menu Plan Monday each week and you'll find all the meal ideas and recipes you'll ever need over there as bloggers from all over converge on Laura's blog to post links to their own weekly meal plans.

    I rarely plan ahead on what veggies or sides to have on any given meal but I will start doing that. I've included sides here but they are in no way carved in stone. We also have a few busy nights this week as well as a night shift (possibly two if I can't get one off) for me.

    I don't have many recipe links this time around (I'm usually much better at that) but this week chez The Year of Feeling Awesome we will be dining as follows:

    Monday: creamed peas on toast (mmmm!!)
    Tuesday: Moroccan Quinoa Salad
    Wednesday: minestrone soup
    Thursday: spaghetti with homemade sauce, cheesy garlic bread, Caesar salad
    Friday: ham steaks with sweet and sour pineapple sauce, Special Cauliflower, carrots
    Saturday: grilled cheese sandwiches, pickles
    Sunday: turkey meat patties topped with tomato sauce and cheese, Hasselback potatoes, corn

    I also have plans this week to make a batch of Megan's granola, a few loaves of the best bread ever (and mix up some bags of the dry ingredients to put in the freezer), and rice pudding (with raisins!).

    If you're interested in other meal ideas or just want to be introduced to a ton of new-to-you great blogs, head over to Organizing Junkie and check out this week's participants.


    Saturday, August 14, 2010 0 comments
    My volunteer tomato plant is thriving in its moderately sunny location on my patio, its stalk growing through a crack between the bricks. The dirt in these cracks is so dense and gravel-y that water takes a very long time to soak down but I suppose once the water has soaked in, it stays pretty well trapped under there, watering the plant over an extended period of time.

    The plant is in full sun for the first half of the day and then full shade but despite that, I have several green cherry tomatoes and many more flowers. I find myself strangely excited over this plant because despite, or maybe because of, the fact that it flops all over the bricks  (short of putting screws into the underside of the window frame a few feet above it and stringing it up, I haven't figured out how to stake it), it is doing better than the other tomato plants in my garden in that it is a deeper green and is less sparse. I have done nothing with this plant other than marvel at it.

    thrive [θraɪv]
    vb thrives, thriving ; thrived, throve ; thrived, thriven [ˈθrɪvən] (intr)
    1. to grow strongly and vigorously
    2. to do well; prosper
    [from Old Norse thrīfask to grasp for oneself, reflexive of thrīfa to grasp, of obscure origin]
    thriver  n
    thriving  adj
    thrivingly  adv
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

    "To grow strongly and vigorously." No mention  of a time frame or a particular end, just to grow "vigorously", that is to be strong, healthy, and full of energy. Thriving does not mean one has reached the pinnacle, that  all has been achieved that was wanted to be achieved. Thriving, as applied to my life and the changes I am making, means that I am putting one foot in front of the other, making steady, whether slow or not, progress, moving in an upward direction. Thriving does not mean that everything will be neat and tidy and perfectly shaped, but rather that it will be healthy and strong and able to withstand adversity.

    I am thriving. I have no other option. Each day, I am choosing to grow, to strengthen myself and allow others to help in growing my strength, to not be afraid of change, and to become more comfortable with my vulnerability. I am alive in this wonderful life that has been given to me and I am choosing not to let another day go by without basking in the many gifts that each day bestows.

    this moment

    Friday, August 13, 2010 0 comments
    {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. Via Soulemama. If you're inspired to do the same, leave your link in the comments here and on Soulemama's blog.

    thursday harvest

    Thursday, August 12, 2010 0 comments
    I planted my little gardens later than usual this year because I spent so long deciding if I was going to plant at all. I'm glad I decided to do it. Days like this (and every other day, really), when I look out at my gardens and see them in all their healthy greenery, fill me with pride, with a sense of "I did that!"

    Today's harvest brought in just enough for this small family - a medium-sized zucchini, four cherry tomatoes (one picked a little too early) with plenty more ripening on the plant, two heirloom Cincinnati Market radishes, a mix of sugar and Amish Snap peas, a single cucumber, green beans, and some heirloom Dragon Tongue beans which will apparently lose the purple upon steaming or otherwise cooking.

    The Dragon Tongues are too pretty not to show closer up.

    The zucchini will become a quinoa-stuffed zucchini will become a late supper for my boyfriend and I tonight served with the Dragon Tongue beans and a salad of green leaf lettuce with tomatoes, cucumber, and a light vinagrette. I'm using a combination of these two recipes: one by Dayna of Vegan Visitor and the other by Emily of the Front Burner.

    What's in your garden?

    two things tuesday

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 0 comments
    Tuesday seems like a good day to make some  changes. Monday puts on too much pressure and Friday leaves too little time, consequently putting on pressure as well. Tuesday is perfect. Today's short and sweet post is brought to you by the very first edition of Two Things Tuesday.

    This week, I am going to implement two changes in my daily routine.
    1. I am going to start meal planning again and will base my grocery shopping on the meals I plan to make during the week instead of the other way around (shopping and then figuring out what to eat). As I will only be planning out suppers, there will be some groceries purchased that are not intended for a specific recipe, namely fruit. I am also going to reduce the amount of fruit purchased. I often buy whole bags of apples (which keep fine in the fridge), whole bunches of bananas (which often end up in the freezer), too many kiwis and tomatoes and pears and peaches, etc. My freezer is full to overflowing with extra fruit which could not be eaten in time. Buying only four bananas (for example) and three peaches will hopefully  help us to eat what we have without having to freeze it.
    2. On my days off this week (Wednesday through Friday), I am going to be up and at it (dressed, hair washed, breakfast eaten, teeth brushed) and ready to go before 9 a.m. Too often, I get my son ready and then I stay in comfort mode for several more hours. The rule for him is "breakfast, teeth, clothes, and then you can play" and I need something very similar for myself.
    Pretty simple challenges for this week, it would seem, but I think they might give me a bit of a run. Even the simplest changes are sometimes a little tricky to establish.

    rock bottom

    Thursday, August 5, 2010 0 comments
    Rock bottom. Not a fun place to be.

    If you haven't been there already, it's quite possible (inevitable maybe?) that you'll be there at some point in your life. I was there on Tuesday night in my relationship with my boyfriend of nearly three years. It was gut wrenching, agonizing, and just plain awful but at the end of that night, when we looked up, way up and through the tears, there was a light shining at the top. Now begins the climb up. Climbing every single day. There is no option for failure here. There will be no coming back from another trip to the bottom. He and I both know this.

    How does one get to rock bottom? There are as many ways as there are people, I would imagine. I don't know exactly how I ended up there. I do know that along the way I became complacent and comfortable. I stopped looking deep into his eyes and soul and instead just looked at him. While I didn't stop telling him I loved him, I did gradually stop telling him he was beautiful, not because he stopped being beautiful to me but because I just stopped saying it. Without all of that, the doubts about "Is this going to work?" creep in and instead of forever being a given, it becomes a concious possibility that maybe we won't be together in five years, let alone one or two. And if we're not going to be together possibly, or even probably, do I really want to sell my house? Where will I live when everything falls apart? Maybe I should take those web design and programming courses that I want to take now instead of later when things might be even more stressful. And on and on it goes.

    I remember, back in the early months, sitting on his lap on the couch facing him and the both of us just staring - gazing - into each other's eyes, hands caressing faces, lips murmuring endearments and heads shaking in the wonderment of it all. He is the love of my life and I am so angry with myself that despite the close calls we've had in the past, it had to come to this. We both play a part, don't get me wrong; neither of us is solely to blame, but each of us holds the power to change ourselves, which is a huge part of restoring the relationship.

    Thankfully for us we are not struggling to learn to love each other again. Our challenge is to change in ourselves the things that need to be changed in order to be better communicators, better at showing the other person every single day just how much they are loved and appreciated, better at prioritizing in all areas of our lives, and better at taking those leaps of faith and stretching personal comfort zones. Our challenge is also to find a common ground in a few big issues and to stop saying, "We need to work on that," or "We'll need to figure that out before we merge our houses into one," and instead just do it. What better time than now?

    Last night as I was struggling to be consistent and steadfast in the face of one of my son's lengthy meltdowns, I found myself repeating in my head, "I'm doing this for my marriage." As I was finally tackling the mountain of plastic containers beside the kitchen sink, I was repeating in my head, "I'm doing this for my marriage." I found myself repeating it as I emptied the dishwasher and loaded it again so that the counter would be clean in the morning, as I scrubbed the sink with a scrubbie and a little dish soap, as I worked at clearing the clutter off the kitchen counters, and at other points throughout the day. Is emptying the dishwasher going to make or break my future marriage? No. But making changes and creating new habits is, I believe, going to help me be a happier and more organized person, more relaxed and able to be spontaneous, less worn out and irritable. Each little change as it becomes routine affects me and my household, which affects my boyfriend and his household, both of which affect our separate lives as well as our life together, which affects our relationship, which will ultimately, when the time comes, affect our marriage. Making the changes now is the only option. If I don't start now, I know that for us, there will be another rock bottom and that is where the relationship will end.

    One of the mundane-yet-highly-important things I'm doing is striving to get my house, and consequently myself, in order. Both have become cluttered from complacency, lack of motivation or drive, tiredness, being overwhelmed at the job at hand, and from a bathroom renovation where items were displaced and piled. I will get my house in order so that each room is comfortable and pleasant to use on a daily basis and so that each night all that is required is to quickly pass through and tidy up a few small areas. I will develop habits that enable this. I will keep my counters clear and  free of dishes. When the dishwasher is clean, I will empty it and re-load it. I will wash plastic containers on a daily basis and ensure that they are all washed by the time I go to bed. I will follow the cleaning schedule I created a couple of years ago, which involves cleaning only a few areas a day, adding up to the whole house being cleaned on a weekly basis. The degree of cleaning depends on the level of dirtiness or untidyness.

    I will make the changes necessary in myself. I will be myself wholly and completely. I will learn to be more confident, less fearful, more willing to take risks and to laugh at myself. I will be openly passionate about the things I love instead of keeping some of them in the closet. I will reach out and be blown away by the positive response I'm so afraid won't be there. I will show the Love of my life, each and every day, that he is the Love of my life. That just as he often tells me that he remains amazed that I am with him, I am amazed that he chose me. As we both work on the things that we need to change in ourselves, we are building a fortress around our love, a love that is so worth fighting for.

    A rock wall at Toronto's Casa Loma. Photo by Neil Gordon.